Provocative hip-hop act Hadag Nahash packs Davis Center

On Feb. 25, Hadag Nahash transformed the Grand Maple Ballroom into an Israeli rock club. While most of the crowd of UVM students did not know Hebrew, that didn’t stop them from rocking out to the music of this Israeli hip-hop/funk band.The seven-piece band, popular in Israel and performing in Vermont for the first time, gained international attention after one of their songs was featured in “You Don’t Mess With the Zohan,” starring Adam Sandler.After nearly a four-year hiatus, they have released their sixth album and are currently on a world tour.Lead singer Sha’anan Streett first became inspired to produce rap music when he started listening to Snoop Dogg. Eventually, he started writing his own music in Hebrew — but this music was different than the typical rap in the western world.”We don’t sing about bitches and hoes,” saxophonist Shlomi Alon said.The name Hadag Nahash is an anagram for Nadag Hadash, meaning “new driver.” New drivers in Israel are required to put a sign saying this on the back of their car to warn other drivers. The band decided to name their band something similar as a joke, to confuse people.Hadag Nahash’s music is upbeat and pop-oriented, calling comparisons to American bands such as the Red Hot Chili Peppers. The band also includes elements of traditional Hebrew music.Most of the band’s music deals with political issues within their home country of Israel. This includes the increasing amount of violence between the region’s various ethnic and religious groups.Hadag Nahash’s music has gotten them in trouble with the Israeli government on multiple occasions.In one instance, the band was barred from performing for Israeli soldiers at the border of Lebanon during the 2006 Hezbollah crisis. The government believed that their songs were too provocative and sent an inappropriate sentiment to the military.”We are mainstream,” Alon said, “but we are controversial.”